Record tumbles as Skyfall soars at box office

The latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, has become the highest-grossing film in British box office history.

The 23rd episode of the spy series, starring Daniel Craig as Agent 007 for a third time, has taken a record £94.3 million ($A145.94 million) at British and Irish cinemas in its first 40 days, the film's producers said.

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MI6 is under attack and Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.

The previous record was held by the sci-fi epic Avatar, which took £94 million during its entire 11 months on show in Britain and Ireland.

"We're overwhelmed with gratitude to the cinema-going audiences in the UK who have made Skyfall the highest-grossing film of all time," producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement.

Daniel Craig in <i>Skyfall</i>.
Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Critics have hailed Skyfall, starring Spanish actor Javier Bardem as the latest villain, as one of the finest in 50 years of Bond films. But it still has a way to go before its global takings catch up with those of Avatar, which remains the most successful movie in history with total earnings of $US2.8 billion ($A2.67 billion), according to tracking website Box Office Mojo.

Skyfall has taken $US869.7 million worldwide so far, the website estimates, making it the 30th-highest-grossing film in history - although the figures are not adjusted for inflation.

The 50th anniversary of the Bond movies has been marked around the world this year with a series of events, from auctions of Bond memorabilia to exhibitions and a documentary.